Disclaimers: See Chapter One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
Conner relaxed in the bath as she let the warm water soothe the aches and pains that were quickly beginning to settle throughout her body. She let her mind drift back over her conversation with Alex. The conversation had taken an avenue of intimation, which allowed Conner's imagination to run rampant. She had already witnessed what those blue eyes could do to her heart the night before at Mike's. The visible pain in Alex's heart when she had spoke of Feryle had shown deeply in her eyes, turning them into pools of deep blue. She wondered just what shade of blue they turned when want and need was the emotion she felt.
The heat Conner felt drifting through her body was not from the water, which had cooled measurably, but from the thoughts that raged in her brain when she thought of Alex. The strong muscles, hidden under her clothes, were what Conner was imagining now: and how they would feel pressed against her naked body. Conner had felt the strength in Alex's hands the previous night. Hands, that could not only fire a gun or disable an assault, but were also capable of great tenderness. The full, soft lips just begging to be kissed...Conner let out an involuntary groan as the heat ripped through her body.
Realizing that she was not helping her muscles relax, she pulled the plug in the tub and stood to rinse off her body with the showerhead. "Cold water, gotta have cold water," Conner growled as she turned the spray on full force. Although the icy spray was doing its job in cooling off her libido, it was wreaking havoc on her already tense and sore muscles. Turning off the spray, Conner grabbed a towel and began to dry her body. The nerve endings in her skin were on full alert, and the usually soft towel was sending a menagerie of signals to her brain as she felt the heat begin to stir once again. Throwing the towel on the floor in a bout of frustration, she pulled on her UF T-shirt, and headed into the bedroom. There, curled up in what was now becoming his pillow, Magnum had settled down for a good night's sleep. She silently swore at her unwelcome houseguest and crawled into the other side of the bed.
Alex's body started screaming for relief from sitting in the chair, and she glanced at the clock realizing it was almost one o'clock. She decided a little fresh air and a long walk were what she needed to limber her up. A few minutes later, Alex was walking along the shoreline, the cool ocean water lapping at her bare feet. She thought back to the two women she had seen the day before, and felt a sudden feeling of sadness flood over her. "Stop it, damn it, just stop it," she chided herself as she felt tears well up in her eyes. "We had some great years together. Maybe one day Feryle, when this is all over, I can focus on those times, and not hurt so bad...maybe."
Alex knew she must look ridiculous, walking on the beach alone, talking to herself. She looked up realizing she had walked a lot further than she intended. Looking back over her shoulder, she could barely see the house beyond the dunes. Turning towards home, she began jogging at an easy gait, thinking about all she had to do before Conner arrived that evening.
"Thought you had the day off yesterday, Conner?"
"Morning, and yeah, I did, Buet." Conner said trying to sound casual, knowing Buet had spotted the gash on her chin and the bruises on her arms. As she rounded the corner, she could hear him yelling, "Must have been one hell of a date, Conner. Didn't know you were having problems fighting them off. Let me know if you need a big stick." At the commotion, all the other officers within earshot looked up and wanted in on the action.
"Hey, Conner, you can borrow my stick anytime," Frank Bivins, one of the more repulsive cops in the precinct, yelled to her.
"Give your wife a break, Bivins and go fuck yourself," Conner snapped back as she headed into her cubicle.
Bivins hated being laughed at and headed over towards Conner with that macho stride he thought looked tough. He came into Conner's already cramped cubicle and sat down on her desk, making his presence known not only to Conner but everyone else within sight.
He leaned over so close Conner could smell the bacon he had eaten for breakfast, and growled, "So was your hot date with the legs that came in to see the Captain the other day? I noticed how much she flustered you when she stuck her head in here. Made you spill your coffee all over the desk."
Conner sat forward, effectively pushing Bivins away with her movement, stood up, and looked him squarely in the eyes. In a voice that could easily be heard by the convening crowd outside the cubicle, Conner snarled, "You know Bivins, I'm not like you, fucking anything that walks. When and if my private life becomes your concern, I'll send you a memo."
Bivins face turned so purple, Conner thought for a second that he had stopped breathing until he leaned to whisper in her ear: "Better watch out how you talk to me Harris, one day I might have to cover your ass, and I don't think you want me pissed off when that day comes."
Conner stood her ground, not flinching when she could feel the whiskers on Bivins face brush against her smooth skin. She turned her head just enough to hid her mouth from the onlookers and whispered, "That's true, Bivins, but you also have to remember, that it might be your slimy ass I'm covering one day, and I think you want me to be a real happy camper when that moment comes." Leaning back, her voice rose just enough to include her audience again. "Now if you don't mind, get your ass off my desk, I have work to do."
Conner sat down at her desk, turned her back to Bivins, and started searching through her filing cabinet, thus dismissing him. "Watch your back, Harris," was all Bivins said as he turned and stormed off towards his own desk.
Bivins received a lot of joking on his way back to his desk. He had come in intending to intimidate her, but left being dismissed by what he would refer to as a 'dyke cop' half his size. Conner knew the danger of alienating her fellow officers. Undoubtedly some of them would side with Bivins against her. However, when she glanced a look beyond the cubicle, she saw a few respectful looks given back her way. She even saw Sonny Henderson, one of the hardest cops on the force, give her a slight nod when she caught his eye.
Conner was sick and tired of the abuse doled out by the macho boys of Precinct One. She had heard almost every insult, she could think of since she had been assigned here. I guess its by no fault of their own, she thought to herself. She was in the middle of the Bible belt. Most of their belief system was so ingrained in them their DNA had mutated to reflect that fact. Conner finished the rest of her leftover paperwork and hit the streets.
Malcolm Hernandez began living on the streets when he was twelve. He had never known his father, and never had any interest in finding out who he was, even if his mother could recall his name. Malcolm's mother, if you could call her that, was nothing more than a junkie. The only work she did was the occasional robbery, or petty theft to feed her habit. On the days her body hurt from the need of her next fix, Maria would sell whatever she had in her possession for a hit. She was not above trading sex for her drugs, either. Malcolm had spent uncountable nights listening to his mother's escapades in the next room. Finally, after one of her friends, as she called them, had come to his room after his mother passed out, he decided the streets were safer than his own home.
Malcolm had fit in well on the streets. He made his rounds from store to store, sweeping the sidewalks for the owners in trade for food. He had always considered himself lucky the day the long black car pulled up outside of Mr. Stone's market. Malcolm watched as three big men stepped out of the car. One walked into the store, the other stood on the street with his right hand in his coat pocket. The other man calmly opened the rear door and out stepped the man Malcolm would come to call Pop.
Mr. Stone sent Malcolm on an errand when the man walked in the store. Feeling like he was being shooed away, Malcolm snuck around to the back door and crept in, hiding behind the large boxes in the storage room. Malcolm heard Mr. Stone begging as the man's bodyguard held a gun to his head. "I promise you, Mr. Gonzolas, I sent the money with my usual boy. I don't know what happened to him. I haven't seen him since yesterday morning, I swear."
Malcolm could see the sweat sliding down Mr. Stone's face as he shook with the terror of knowing he was about to die. Malcolm knew something had to be done or they were going to kill him. Slowly, he slide out from behind the boxes and eased his way toward the men. Gonzolas, looked up casually as if he knew Malcolm had been there all along. "I seen him yesterday after Mr. Stone gave him the bag. Don't know what was in it, but Joey went around the corner, and got in a big car just like yours and drove off." I promise, Mister, don't hurt Mr. Stone, he didn't do nothing."
Gonzolas, looked hard at the boy pleading for Stone's life. "What's it to you kid? Afraid you're going to lose your meal ticket?" Gonzolas asked the boy.
"No, sir I just don't want to see Mr. Stone hurt for something he didn't do."
"So how you know they didn't plan this thing together kid?" Maybe, Joey is hanging low for a while, till things settle down. Then the two of the are gonna split the money and run," Gonzolas countered.
"Don't think Joey wanted Mr. Stone to know nothing 'bout it, mister. He would always look around real nervous-like whenever that car would come around...like he didn't want Mr. Stone to know."
Gonzolas laughed deep from his belly. "Well, Stone, looks like this kid saved you sorry hide today. I'll keep you around, but only on one condition. From now on, the kid is your courier. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes sir, yes sir, anything you say, Mr. Gonzolas." Stone knew he was sentencing Malcolm to a life of darkness, but as usual, greed and his will to live won over his conscience.
Gonzolas, calmly walked toward the front of the store, removing himself from the sound of shattering bones, as the guard brought the gun across Stone's face.
Malcolm watched with blank eyes. It was not his first taste of violence, and it certainly would not be his last.
At five o'clock, Conner started wrapping up her day. There was lightness in her step as she walked into the precinct and spotted Buet.
"My, my, we must have had a productive day. I haven't seen you smiling this big in...well...never, actually. What do you have up your sleeve, Conner?" Buet always liked to tease Conner. He was probably the only person that could tease her about her private life, and walk away unharmed.
Conner grinned, and headed towards her cubicle chuckling at Buet over her shoulder. "Well, Buet if I told you that, it wouldn't be a secret...and I'm sure it wouldn't be nearly as juicy as what you're imagining."
She dropped her notes in her filing cabinet and locked it, grabbed a few files she knew she wanted to read over the weekend, and headed towards the door. She reached for the door and pulled it open. Bivins was on his way in and effectively blocked her exit as he stopped in front of her. Buet's senses came on full alert as he watched the two officers stare each other down. Bivins leaned down towards Conner and whispered. "You have a good weekend, officer Harris. Don't do anything that might make those bumps and bruises any worse." Conner shoved her way past Bivins and stormed out the front door.
"Damn, what a fucking, bitch of a day." Conner growled as she headed to the parking lot
Well, at least it's over until Monday, and I'm sure the night will be an improvement. She had just finished that thought when she rounded the corner and saw all four tires of the Jag flat against the concrete floor.
"Bivins, that mangy piece of shit," Conner growled as she walked over to the car. She glanced at her watch and knew she would not have time to get them replaced. It was five-fifteen now, and she had to be on the road by five-thirty if she were going to be at Alex's on time.
Pulling her cell phone from her pocket, she dialed a taxi.
Alex opened the door to a clearly frustrated Conner Harris. Holding a hanging bag in one hand and a duffle bag in the other, Alex invited her inside.
"Sorry if I'm late. One of my esteemed colleagues decided to flatten all four of my tires this afternoon," Conner explained.
"Whoa, you mean another police officer slashed your tires?" Alex questioned clearly confused.
"Well, I can't prove it was him...yet. But I have one of my famous gut feeling he is the one who did it," Conner offered, knowing she was jumping the gun accusing Bivins of the deed. She should know better, she was a cop after all.
Alex stood watching Conner, with the baggage in her hands. "Here, let me take that for you. Do you haul around luggage in your car on a routine basis?" Alex laughed as she helped Conner by lifting the weight in her arms.
"Well, actually no I don't. I didn't think I would look presentable going to dinner in my street clothes. I also didn't want to change at the station, especially after the hassle I got when I walked into the precinct this morning." Conner tried to growl but could not hide the smile coming through her voice. Turning towards the hallway Alex said, "Let me put these in the bedroom. Looks like you could use a drink and a little time to settle before we go out."
"There is beer in the refrigerator. Grab a couple and I'll meet you on the back deck."
Conner looked around the house for the first time. The house was absolutely amazing. She did not think she had ever seen so many windows in one structure. Combined with the oak hardwood floors and the high vaulted ceilings, the house was both energizing and refreshing.
She walked over to the fireplace and noticed a collection of photographs on the mantle. Several had captured Alex in an amazing smile. One that was set off by the twin dimples that usually hid within her cheeks. Her eyes were a clear sparkling blue, emitting a happiness that only love could generate. The other woman could be no one else but Feryle, Conner surmised. There were photographs taken at moments that Alex and Feryle had shared on vacations, weekends having fun, and holidays.
Alex hesitated as she entered the room. It had been a long time since anyone had been in her home, and she wasn't quite sure what she felt having a virtual stranger examining her private moments with Feryle.
"Umm, everything is in the bedroom, whenever you're ready to change. I don't know about you but I'm ready for a drink. What would you like, Conner?"
Shocked by the voice behind her, Conner turned around quickly and faced Alex. She was surprised by the contrast of expressions she saw. She was not sure if it was anger, sadness, suspicion, or all of the above that swept across Alex's face. One thing she knew was that it certainly was not the laughing happy face she had just observed in the photographs.
"Ahh, beer is fine with me, unless you'd prefer something else."
"Beer is fine with me, too. I just thought you might need something stronger, considering the kind of day you've had," Alex offered. Walking towards Conner, Alex focused on her chin. As she stood in front of her, she reached out and gently took Conner's face in her hand, and lifted her chin for a better view. "Ouch. Bet that hurts like hell," was all she could say.
Conner froze at the contact. She silently cursed her voice for turning tail and hiding in her stomach every time Alex was near. "Umm...well...it does kind of smart a little."
"Have you put any antibiotic on it this afternoon?" Alex asked
"No, mom." Conner laughed, I haven't been anywhere near a first aid kit, out on the streets."
"Well, you get the beer, and I'll get the first aid kit, and see you out back," Alex said as she headed back down the hallway.
Conner found her way into the kitchen, where she retrieved two beers from the refrigerator, and headed out to the deck. When she stepped through the sliding glass doors, what she saw was remarkable. The view to the ocean was completely unobscured except for the natural dunes lying peacefully between the house and the water. The saw grass swung lazily in the evening breeze and the water...the water was the most beautiful azure blue Conner had ever seen.
She looked down the beach in both directions and saw nothing but the pure undisturbed environment for at least a hundred yards on each side. The few houses she saw dotted on the landscape fit in perfectly with their natural surroundings. Conner could not believe this home was sitting close to one of the largest cities in the state. It felt more like she was on a deserted beach somewhere on a far off island.
"Well, I see you're admiring the view," Alex said as she walked out onto the deck.
Conner looked at Alex is total wonderment. "Admiring--that's an understatement--this view totally blows me away, Alex. How did you find this place?"
"I will tell no secrets until your chin has been seen to, so don't even try and change the subject," Alex said as she motioned Conner to a deck chair.
Conner could not move. She thought for a moment that she might pass out right here on the deck. Laughing at the look on the woman's face Alex laughed and grabbed Conner's arm and pulling her toward the chair. "Geez, and I thought you were a tough cop, Harris. You look like I'm about to perform major surgery here. Relax its just a little peroxide and some antibiotic salve."
Conner took a deep breath and sat in the chair, relieved that Alex did not see the terror in her eyes. Terror of having the woman so near, and touching her. She sat in the chair and nervously put her hands in her lap.
"You're pathetic, Harris. I've seen kids braver than you," Alex said kneeling in front of Conner. Touching her chin, Alex gently lifted Conner's head to get a better view of the gash. Alex could feel the woman trembling beneath her hands and wondered if Conner felt the jolting shock that she had when their skin had met.
Closing her eyes for a moment to regain her composure, Alex became aware of the delicious scent of the other woman. The clean, spicy scent that radiated from this woman made Alex want to lean in for more. When she finally opened her eyes, staring back at her were Conner's sea green eyes. Alex could almost hear herself gasp at what she saw in that instant. Desire, confusion, uncertainty, those were apparent, but also a hint of uncertainty.
Alex felt as if the air was being squeezed from her lungs. Taking a slow deep breath, and nervously licking her top lip, Alex broke eye contact first and looked down at Conner's lap. "Umm, Let's get this...ahh...cleaned up, so you can go get changed for dinner," Alex said in a ragged voice, as she reached for the first aid kit, giving them both a moment to recover.
Both women had to focus to control their involuntary reactions when their skin once again touched. Conner tilted her head back and stared at the sky, trying to think of her flat tires, groceries, anything but the gorgeous women touching her. The heat that radiated through her body threatened to consume her at that moment.
Alex gently cleaned the broken skin on Conner's chin, taking great care not to inflict any more pain that necessary. Her hands were visibly shaking as she dabbed the peroxide on the wound and hoped it was not too apparent. As tenderly as she could, she applied the antibiotic, and as she was beginning to sit back saw a faint scar running under the length of jaw. Unconsciously, she reached out and ran her hand down the scar, wondering how much pain this woman had endured.
Conner could not control her quick intake of breath as she felt Alex's hand stroke her jaw line. She lowered her head and looked deeply into the dark seductive eyes, asking her a wordless question. She knew if nothing else ever happened between them, that she would always remember this moment. If only she had a clue as to what Alex was thinking, then maybe she could make a reasonable choice as to how to respond. Taking the safe way out, she curled her lips into a smile and said, "Bernie Fromboiskie."
Conner's comment broke through Alex's thoughts like a knife, and she sat back on her heels looking a little confused. "Excuse me?"
"Bernie Fromboiskie," Conner said dryly. "A ten year old nightmare." The spell was broken and now Conner sat back in her chair and laughed as she remembered the night.
"My partner and I got called to a domestic dispute. When we got to the residence, this woman was beating the crap out of her kid. Seth went for the boy, and I went for the woman. Together we managed to separate them, and everyone chilled out. Seth had the kid a few feet away trying to distract him, and was showing the kid his billy club. I was in the middle of questioning his mother when out of nowhere this kid whacked me in the jaw with Seth's stick."
Alex was not having much success in holding back her laughter, her entire body shaking as she tried to keep the grin off her face.
"Hey, you're supposed to be feeling sorry for me. That kid almost killed me." She pouted.
"OK, OK, go on with your story."
"Well, anyway, as I was saying, the kid whacked me. The mom, obviously used to the brat's reactions decided to take advantage of the situation and jumped on Seth. Next thing I knew I was calling for backup and bleeding like a stuck pig."
By this time Alex was on the floor laughing so hard her side was threatening to burst.
"Hell, it only gets worse from there. The ass, that I suspect slashed my tires today, was our backup. He and his partner came riding in, broke the whole thing up, carted me to the patrol car, and sent me off with Seth to the hospital for a few stitches. By the time we got back to the precinct, the entire squad had heard Bivin's blown up story about how a ten-year-old kid beat the shit out of me. I don't think I'll ever live that one down," Conner said in a whining voice as she glared at Alex.
Alex sat up, and reached her hand out to stroke the scar once again. She looked into Conner's eyes for a moment and wanted nothing more than to pull her close and hold her in her arms, basking in the scent of the woman. Alex took a deep breath and smiled as she looked deeply into the other woman's eyes. Conner saw Alex's lips part just enough for her to see the glistening tongue that teased those inviting lips, as she whispered, "Looks like that's going to get you a double scoop of ice cream for desert." Then let flow the most enlightening smile Conner had ever seen. If she had not been sitting in the chair, she would have surely fallen flat on her face.
"No way am I settling for ice cream tonight. You already owe me big time for my chin slide. Now, since you have found so much humor in my painful experience with Bernie, it's really going to cost you now," Conner said as she raised an eyebrow, and snarled at Alex.
"OK, OK, whatever you say. Now go change so we can get moving. All that laughing has worked up an appetite in me, and I'm famished."
Alex stood up and led Conner back into the house as the two warm beers sat untouched on the deck. Alex led Conner down the hallway to her bedroom, asking herself the entire way as to why she chose to put them here, and not in the guest room. She led the way into the room and showed Conner the bathroom. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Alex left the woman to get dressed.
She immediately headed to the kitchen and pulled a beer from the refrigerator. Twisting the top off, she took a large swallow. Feeling the cold beer flow down her throat, Alex ran her hand through her hair. Damn, she thought. What am I doing? You would think I was some adolescent teenager with raging hormones.
Alex walked into the living room and sat down on the sofa, wondering just what it was about the woman that was now in her bedroom changing to go out to dinner with her. No, Alex thought, not my bedroom...mine and Feryle's.
A few minutes later, Conner came into the room. She had changed into a pair of brown slacks and a tan silk blouse. She had let her hair down, and it now flowed freely across her shoulders. A small gold chain hung around her neck adorned with a tiny locket. Alex felt the air rush in as she took in a surprising breath. The tough street cop that sat on the deck a few moments before had transformed herself into a stunning and seemingly fragile woman.
Conner looked into Alex's eyes as she tried to read the expression on her face, but all she could do was fall deeper and deeper into the sultry eyes that stared back at her. Breaking the silence Conner asked, "Well, do I clean up OK, Agent Montgomery?" A grin across her face, as she closed the distance between them.
"Yeah, I'd say you clean up pretty well, Agent Harris. Now let's see if I can do the same. Make yourself comfortable, I'll be right back." Alex headed back towards the bedroom. She had not intended on changing clothes, but needed a minute to let her thoughts, and body, settle down. Seeing Conner as she walked in the room had set flames coursing down to her soul. Grabbing another blouse and a vest out of the closet, Alex quickly changed.
Conner was strolling around the living room, looking at bits and pieces of Alex and Feryle's life together when Alex reentered the room. This time, though, Alex did not sense the protective shield come up; somehow she knew Conner was not a threat to Feryle's memory. It was as if the more she knew of Conner, the more she could remember of Feryle, and not hurt.
They gathered their things, and headed out the door to dinner. The drive took only a few minutes. Alex had made reservations for eight o'clock earlier in the day, so she knew that they would not have a wait. As she and Conner walked into Antonio's, she was overwhelmed by the smell of the homemade Italian cuisine. She was telling Conner that this had been one of her and Feryle's favorite restaurants when the booming voice of a woman broke into their conversation.
"What do you mean, one of your favorites? You always told me it was your favorite." A grin broke across Alex's face as she recognized the woman's gruff voice behind her. Turning around the, Alex was swept up into a warm and fond embrace by the woman. "Maria, of course it's my all time favorite. I can't imagine what I was thinking." Alex placed a tender kiss on the woman's cheek.
Alex and Maria spoke for a few moments, Alex being chastised for not being in the restaurant in so long. The smiles were warm and loving on each woman's face. Conner knew there was a history here, one that involved Feryle, and she didn't know exactly what she should do at the moment, so she strolled over to the displayed menu and pretended to read.
A few moments later, Conner's thoughts were broken by a deep throaty voice in her right ear. "I was wondering where you got off to."
Conner turned her head slightly, only inches away from those tantalizing lips. She hesitated for a moment, and then almost whispered, "Well, I had a feeling that you hadn't seen each other in a while and wanted to give you a few moments to talk."
Alex tilted her head and looked at Conner with an appreciative smile. "Thanks, it has been a while. Actually, I haven't seen Maria or Antonio since Feryle's memorial service. It's really good to see them again, but..."
"Alex, you don't have to explain," Conner broke in, her eyes telling Alex that she understood, and that everything was OK. "I...umm...know it must be hard for you, coming back here, reliving all of these memories." Conner was about to ask Alex why they had come here, when she heard Maria call that their table was ready.
Maria took Alex's elbow and led the way through the dining room. She stopped at a very private table by a window overlooking the garden. Conner could see the strain in Alex's face as she sat down, and her trembling chin as she stared out the window.
"Alex, if you're not comfortable coming here tonight, we can go somewhere else. I really won't mind. I like Mexican, Chinese, Burger King..."
"No, Conner it's OK, I just didn't think Maria would seat us here...at this table...not tonight...not my first time back." Alex ran a hand through her hair and let out a haggard breath. "Anyway, if we left now, it would only upset Maria, and I wouldn't want to do that."
"OK, if that's what you really want, but..."
"Conner, it's fine...really." Alex smiled. "And furthermore, you can't find better, or bigger scoops of ice cream anywhere else this side of the Mississippi."
Conner saw a slight twinkle in Alex's eyes, and knew that she had dealt with the first, of probably many, demons, and everything was going to be okay, at least for tonight.
Maria hovered over them most of the evening. Alex, finally able to get a word into the conversation, introduced Conner to her old friend. The sideways glance, the raised eyebrow, and the small smile Maria gave Alex did not escape detection from either woman. Alex handled it well, and they ended up having a wonderful dinner.
They talked about the house, and the months it had taken Alex and Feryle to get it livable. Alex explained that during that time was when she and Feryle had met Maria and Antonio. They had completely gutted the kitchen and had to look elsewhere for nourishment. Thus, the friendship had begun. Alex also went on to tell Conner that the last night she and Feryle had spent together, was here having dinner at this very table.
Conner was flabbergasted, at the news, and suddenly felt like an intruder. Alex picked up the signs of Conner's uneasiness and let her know that it was okay. If she had not been able to deal with it, they would have gone somewhere else for dinner. This made Conner feel a little easier, especially given the thoughts she had been having about Alex throughout their evening.
By the time they had finished dinner, and had shared the biggest bowl of ice cream Conner had ever seen, it was almost midnight. The evening had been enjoyable for both women, and they had completely lost track of the time. When Maria came back by the table, Alex asked for the check. What ensued was the funniest sight she had seen in a while. The two obviously bullheaded women arguing over the check had Conner in stitches. Maria finally won, of course, saying it was a welcome home gift. Alex feigned a pout when she realized the battle was lost.
They made their way slowly back to the car. Both women felt stuffed from dinner and a little lightheaded from too much wine. The drive back to the house was refreshing. Alex had taken the top off the jeep earlier in the week, and the cool ocean breeze swept though their hair. It had been a good night for both women.
When they had driven into the drive, and gotten out of the jeep, Alex started walking them around the side of the house. There was a peaceful and easy silence between the two women as Alex led them down towards the dunes. They walked along lost in their own thoughts for a few minutes before Alex finally spoke.
"I really enjoyed dinner with you tonight, Conner."
Conner could barely make out Alex's words as the sound of the waves filled the background with soothing sounds.
"I'm really glad you did, Alex. I was afraid that you weren't going to when..."
Alex broke into Conner's words. "I did too...at least for a while. Somehow, it was almost surreal going back there. The memories that flooded my mind when we sat down at that table...the pain...the...the loss." Alex almost said 'loneliness,' but realized that she had not been lonely. Conner had made the trip back into Antonio's...bearable. Although there had been a sad veil enveloping her spirit, Conner's presence had fashioned a peaceful ambiance to the evening.
They had stopped walking, and were facing each other in the darkness, with only the glow of the full moon casting a light on each woman's face. The smell of the sea, mixed with Alex's scent, was almost more than Conner could bear. She reached out and pulled Alex into her arms.
Alex tensed at the touch of the other woman, then let herself relax and be comforted by Conner's embrace. Conner's arms surrounded her, letting Alex know the strength of the other woman's feelings. Alex slowly let her arms circle Conner's waist, and the two women stood for a long time, just relishing the warmth of each other. Lost in thoughts they were both too frightened to utter aloud.
Pulling the woman closer, Conner let out a small, quiet sigh, as she tucked her head into the soft tresses of Alex's hair, inhaling the scent of her shampoo and the essence that could only be Alex herself. Conner could feel the rapid beat of Alex's heart in her neck. Turning her head slightly, she planted a small kiss over the pulsing beat.
Conner felt more than heard the quick intake of breath from Alex. She lifted her head, and looked into the shaded irises of Alex's eyes. What she saw was a barely concealed look of want and need, what she felt was a deep burning heat that ached to find relief.
Alex was completely overwhelmed by the warmth and tenderness in Conner's embrace. She could feel her pulse pounding in her chest, making her lightheaded. The quiet moan she heard from Conner as she kissed her neck was almost as powerful as the sensation she felt coursing through her body. Slowly she lifted her head to meet Conner's eyes. There, in those eyes, was passion...lust...and need.
Conner's lips were but a breath away from Alex's. Her own lips parted, just slightly, in anticipation of what was to come. She slowly bent her head to kiss those delectable lips, when suddenly headlights engulfed them in a bright circle of light.
Both women jumped as the four-wheel drive truck pulled beside them. Besieged by the emotions still coursing their bodies, Alex and Conner spun around and faced the offensive lights.
Sliding to a stop beside them, Bivins let out a robust laugh. "Scared you there, didn't I, Harris?"
"What the hell do you want, Bivins? You could have killed us driving up on us like that," Conner screamed at the other officer.
"Easy, girl." Bivins snarled. "You're just pissed, cuz I messed up your little party here."
Alex could tell that this man Bivins had been drinking. She could smell it on him from five feet away. If she remembered correctly, Conner suspected this man of slashing her tires earlier in the evening. The more the man derided Conner the angrier Alex became.
"Do you mind telling me what you're doing on my beach?" Alex snarled in an equally hostile voice.
"Whoa there, sweetie," Bivins responded in a sarcastic reply. "Hey Conner, why don't you introduce me to the legs." Bivins made no show to hide the fact that he was admiring Alex's body from head to toe.
"I really don't think she cares to meet you, Bivins, and I think she asked you a question," Conner pursued.
"Well, to answer your question, legs." Bivins glared at Alex, "I don't think you own the beach, lady, as an law enforcement official in this county, I do believe this is a public beach." Bivins had stood from the car and now stood inches from Alex's face, the stench of his breath threatening to force her backwards.
Alex returned his cold glare, not allowing the larger man to intimidate her. She regarded him as she would a suspect. "I believe, officer, that you should go back and do a little reviewing. According to the law in the State of Florida, the public beach area begins at the wet/dry line. If my estimate is correct, you would now be standing approximately ten feet within my property line, and I'm asking you very nicely...to leave."
Even in the darkness, Conner could see the veins in Bivins neck almost explode. His breathing ragged, he growled, "And what if I don't feel like leaving, little lady? What if I feel like sticking around and getting in the game you and Harris were starting." Grabbing Alex's arm, Bivins tried to pull Alex toward him.
Before Conner could react, Alex had lifted her left elbow and allowed her forward momentum to propel it into Bivins's nose. Stunned by the quick movement, Bivins released Alex, grabbed his nose, and stepped back a couple of feet. Alex did not waste any time taking advantage of the distance. She pivoted on her left foot while bringing her right leg up, and delivered a brutal blow the Bivins's chest.
Alex never slowed, and as Bivins lay on the ground gasping for air, she flipped him over until his broken and bloody nose was pressed into the ground. She twisted his arm around his back rendering him defenseless as she pressed her right knee into his back. "Well, if you don't leave on your own, you just might piss me off, officer and I don't think you want to do that," Alex growled into his ear.
"You fucking bitch," Bivins screamed as Alex twisted his arm higher on his back. "Conner, tell this bitch who I am, tell her I'm hauling her ass in, and taking you with her as an accessory."
Even the severity of the moment could not overcome the amusement Conner felt at Bivins's prone form being ground into the sand by Alex. She slowly circled, and kneeled down close to Bivin's face openly laughing at his predicament. "Well, before I do that, asshole maybe I should make some formal introduction here. Alex I'd like you to meet Frank Bivins, a slime ball cop I have the misfortune of working with downtown." Conner's voice was full of contempt for the man. Looking towards Alex for approval, she was met with a slight nod. "And, Frankie, I'd like you to meet Alex Montgomery, or maybe I should make things a little clearer and say Special Agent Alex Montgomery, of the FBI."
Bivins strained to turn his head to look at Alex, but she kept him pinned firmly to the ground. Leaning forward so she could get closer to his ear, and unintentionally, well maybe not completely unintentionally, pressing her knee further into his back, Alex gave him a choice. "I'll make a deal with you, officer Bivins. I'll let you up and you can get back in your truck and get the hell off my beach, or I can charge you with not only trespassing and destruction of a natural resource, but with assault on a Federal Officer. I think the first choice would be the wisest...unless of course you don't have any plans for the next couple of years...or five." Twisting the arm just once more she added: "What's it going to be, door number one or door number two." Alex growled into his ear.
"Let me up...now," Bivins growled back.
"Remember what I told you. Leave like a good little boy, or I'm coming down hard on you, and I promise you won't like it." Alex released the pressure on his arm and stood up. Bivins stood quickly, rubbing his shoulder where Alex had strained it. Alex and Bivins glared at each other for a moment, each testing the resolve of the other. Finally, Bivins broke the stare and turned towards Conner. "Next time, I'll make sure you don't have your pet feebie with you, Conner then we'll see what a tough girl you really are." Bivins stalked to the truck, got in, and sped away, showering the two women in a needling spray of sand.
Not realizing she had been holding her breath, Alex let out and exasperated sigh, and ran her hand through her hair. Looking at Conner's face she could tell Bivins had gotten to her. The pale let Alex know she was frightened and stunned by the actions of her fellow officer. Reaching out she took Conner's hand and pulled her down to the sand.
"God, Alex, I'm so sorry. I had no idea he had followed me out here tonight." Then with a sudden realization she turned and faced Alex, "He must have been watching us all evening, or at the least lurking somewhere in the shadows waiting for us to come back to the house." Conner suddenly felt guilty. Alex had already been through enough the past year, and now she had somehow managed to drag her into the middle of this undeclared war between her and Bivins.
"It's not your fault, Conner. You can't take responsibility for someone else's actions. He doesn't seem to be a very stable man," Alex spoke to Conner in soft, soothing words. "If I were you, I think I would avoid him as much as possible, at least until he calms down a bit."
"Yes, I know what you mean. I think it's a good thing we have the weekend before I have to see him again...at least I hope." Conner was frustrated, scared, and tired. Looking at her watch, she saw that it was one-thirty in the morning. "I need to go. I wanted you to have a good time tonight. I didn't mean to practically get you assaulted, and keep you up half the night." Conner looked at Alex guiltily.
Not knowing exactly how to express herself Alex looked at Conner, and took hold of her hand. "Conner, I really don't think it's such a good idea that you be out on the road tonight. I'm sure he is halfway back to the city by now, but you can't be too careful with people like him. I would really appreciate it if you would stay here tonight," Alex said softly.
"Alex, this has already been too much of a hassle for you. I'll just go call a taxi and get out of here so you can enjoy the rest of your weekend in peace."
Anger flashed through Alex's eyes, and her lips formed a very thin line on her face as she took a deep breath to calm herself before she spoke. "Conner Harris, you must think I am a cold bitch, if you think for a moment that I could go in and go to sleep, knowing you were out there on the road, not knowing where Bivins is at the moment.
Conner's eyes registered the shock at the declaration Alex had just made. She opened her mouth to speak but Alex cut her off before she could say a word. "As for enjoying my weekend...well...I thought I might get lucky enough to get an invitation to...umm...meet the other terror in your life." Conner's face conveyed a total look of confusion.
"You mean you want to meet Seth's cat?" Conner asked in a bewildered voice.
"No, silly," Alex said now laughing at the confusion she saw on Conner's face. "I thought you might let me meet 'The Shady Lady'. After all she worked in concert with me to bang up that cute chin of yours." Alex reached out and gently stroked Conner's chin with her hand, not knowing if the trembling she felt beneath her finger was from her fright moment before, or her touch.
Conner smiled, and looked at Alex. Laughing quietly, she nodded her head in agreement.
"OK, then it's settled. You'll stay here tonight. In the morning, we can see about getting your tires fixed, then I'll follow you to your little island, and we can spend the day as far away from Bivins as we can get. Does that sound like a plan to you?"
"Sounds like a damn fine plan to me, Agent Montgomery...a damn fine plan."
Standing up, Alex reached down and offered her hand to Conner, lifting her off the sand. Stumbling from the uneven terrain, Conner found herself once again in Alex's arms. Hugging Alex warmly, Conner whispered a quiet "thank you" in Alex's ear. Pulling her face away, looking into Alex's eyes, she bent her head and gently placed a warm, tender kiss on Alex's temple.
Alex held the woman warmly, and was disappointed when Conner began to pull away, until she felt the gentle kiss Conner deposited on her temple. At that moment, Alex felt welcomed; warmth spread through her body. The two women held each other's eyes for a moment, and then they reluctantly released each other, turned, and walked slowly towards the house.
Walking up the steps of the deck, both women realized that they needed a shower to wash off the sand Bivins had sprayed in his heated departure. After showing Conner to the guest bedroom and bath, the women spent a few uncomfortable moments in silence before Alex said goodnight and left Conner alone.
Alex headed into the master bedroom. Closing the door, she let out a breath as the depth of the evening engulfed her. She had run through a gauntlet of emotions, from fear during the encounter with Bivins, to pure bliss at the moment Conner had place the tender kiss on her temple, to total confusion as to how she would respond to those feelings in the morning.
Alex showered, and slipped between the cool sheets of her bed. The chill she felt was in contrast to the warmth she felt when she slipped into Conner's arms. Laying there, thinking of the evening, Alex fell into a fitful sleep, filled with dreams of Feryle...and the woman who now lay sleeping in the next room.
Conner took a cool shower. She needed the cool water to wash away the heat that had threatened to overtake her body. She quickly dried off and curled beneath the sheets, holding a pillow close to her body. She soon slept, and dreamed of what might have happened had Bivins not made his unwelcome appearance on the beach.
Continue to Part Eight of Storm Surge
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